Studies suggest even mild symptoms of COVID-19 can cause severe damage to lungs, heart and brain
Various studies have shown that people presenting with mild symptoms of COVID-19 may also suffer from irreversible damage to the vital organs of the body.
Since there are no medications for COVID-19 infection yet, the doctors are focusing on treating the patients at the acute stage to help them recover from the infection. But as more people recover, there is also a growing need to understand the possible damage caused by the disease. So far, it has been observed that a person with severe symptoms of COVID-19 may suffer from multiple organ damage. However, various studies have shown that people presenting with mild symptoms of COVID-19 may also suffer from irreversible damage to the vital organs of the body.
Permanent lung damage from COVID-19
Studies reveal that the people presenting with severe symptoms of COVID-19 usually suffer from pneumonia as their lungs become devoid of oxygen, thus allowing fluid to fill in.
As pneumonia keeps on progressing, it gets difficult for the person to breathe which can lead to a potentially fatal condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). In ARDS, the lungs become severely inflamed which can eventually lead to pulmonary fibrosis, also known as scarring of the lung tissue.
In the case of people with mild symptoms, SARS-CoV-2 virus impairs the lung capacity as the affected person tends to breathe faster when they feel breathless. This makes them use the top of their chest to breathe instead of the whole of the lungs. Moreover, researchers also found that some patients also developed silent hypoxia, where the oxygen levels of their body were plummeting without any noticeable symptoms. This made the patients collapse quickly and with no warning. Even after getting discharged, these people may need to undergo long-stretched therapy sessions to recover from this damage.
Even mild symptoms can affect the heart
It has been reported in many cases that COVID-19 infection damages the heart of the people with comorbidities or the ones who suffer from severe symptoms. However, a case of heart damage due to COVID-19 was seen in a 51-year-old, otherwise healthy journalist living in London.
She presented with mild symptoms of COVID-19 initially, such as mild body ache and sore throat, but on the eighth day, she complained of heaviness in her chest. On getting an electrocardiogram (ECG), it was reported that the virus caused inflammation of her heart which further lead to myocarditis. Myocarditis is a condition where the muscles of the heart get inflamed, which reduces the ability of the heart to pump.
COVID-19 causes brain abnormalities
So far, doctors stated that patients experiencing severe symptoms of COVID-19 or those who have been hospitalized for a long time are likely to suffer from brain damage. According to a French study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on 15th April 2020, one-third of the COVID-19 patients who got discharged suffered from a dysexecutive syndrome. In this condition, the person suffers from disorientation and is unable to respond to commands.
However, now doctors have reported that patients with mild or moderate symptoms may also suffer from some sort of brain damage. A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine in May 2020 stated that 87% of patients with mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19 lost their sense of smell. While some doctors believed that it could be due to some inflammation or nasal congestion, others said that it could be due to the interaction of coronavirus with the nerves of the brain that help in processing scent.
This claim was supported by another study published in the journal JAMA where the researchers did an MRI of the brain of a COVID-19 patient who lost her sense of smell. The study stated that the virus had invaded some parts of the brain.
For more information, read our article on COVID-19.
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